Creating new pixel flats

Another issue when revamping the houses of Daggerfall is the limited clutter. We are used to clutter in Triple-A games, rubbish, detritus, object d’art… but Daggerfall was from a former era. PCs were limited. Everything non-essential added bloat that PCs of the time couldn’t cope with. Also, with a game Daggerfall’s size there was only so much they could add. So peoples diets were limited to meat, fish and bread with some basic fruit. They drank only out of goblets and are off bare tables. As part of the enrichment I plan to add I want to give them more luxury. Tankards, mugs, plates etc. Some of this has been covered by the Daggerfall Expanded Textures mod, but I want more and rather than hectoring the creators of that mod for more minutiae I though I should try my hand at doing some myself.

Creating what is now known as pixel-art is an art form. Originally people drew low pixel art because computer graphics were low pixel and you had to. These days it’s a style. Not one I’ve dabbled in before really. For some, Daggerfall’s pixelated graphics (along with other classic games of the era such as Doom) are part of it’s charm. Creating new assets that fit with the style and working within those severe constraints are part of the appeal.

For Daggerfall an important starting block is to ensure you have the correct colour palette. Otherwise when you load the assets in the game they will look wrong.

There is a forum post about using the popular SLADE editor for Doom to palettise images for use in Daggerfall, however most decent image editors worth their salt can import a palette. I tend to use the almighty GIMP on my desktop, but as mentioned before, I try to do as much out and about as possible and the popular Pixel Studio app also allows you to save a palette from an image. A simple way to get the correct palette to work with would be to load an existing untampered image from Daggerfall into your editor and save the palette to use in your own creations.

For ease of use below is a small .png containing the Daggerfall colour palette for use with regular billboards that was shared from the above forum post.


As I’ve said many times before; I’m not an artist. At least not compared to artists I know. I’m a tinkerer. I’m doing these things as much to learn the process as to create anything of use. Regardless, here’s what I’ve achieved so far. I’ve started by cutting the drinking horn and tankard from the hands of some innkeeper flats used in the game, as it’s frustrating that they appear of offer these everyone drinks out of wineglasses and fancy goblets. When placed on it’s own the tankard more resembles an old boxing glove, but it’s a start.

Another issue is that adding new assets to Daggerfall Unity isn’t very well documented and what there is tends to be spread out across forum posts and blogs. There is some limited documentation on but it doesn’t go into how-to levels. After some forum trawling and Googling and asking on the Discord I learned that to add new billboard objects you need to save them as .png into the Textures directory with the .png named to following the DFU archive_record-frame format e.g. for my basic tankard that would be 56790 for the drinking receptacles archive, 1 for the tankard and 0 for the frame as it’s not animated. Naturally for animated flats you would have multiple pngs with the frame number incremented.

As an example, to be packaged into a dfmod:


And another for a loose unpackaged billboard for general use:


These can then be added to your scene in Unity using the WorldData Editor by manually adding a billboard.

Make sure the Billboard button is clicked and then click on the “Add manually” button.

Type the Object ID into the box. This will be in the forum of archive.record, e.g. 56790.1 for the drinking horn.

Your flat asset should then appear in the Scene window and can be manipulated like any other asset in the Unity Editor.

Of course flat assets can’t be rotated in the editor. Don’t worry about this as they will automatically rotate to face the player within the game.

Save your file to test it out.

At the moment I’m including any flats I create with my houses2homes mod, but I may distribute these separately at some stage.

Something to say?